Forget any stereotypes about hasty millenials- adults over sixty have the fastest growing divorce rates. According to the Office for National Statistics, so called ‘grey divorces’ have increased by a whopping 75% in the past twenty years.
So why can’t grandma and grandpa make it work? Here are four reasons why older adults are more likely than ever to seek divorce:
They’re living longer. Older adults in unhappy marriages are much less likely to stick around when they know they have many years left of good health. Professor Stephanie Coontz of Evergreen State University notes, “If you are a healthy sixty-five, you can expect a pretty healthy twenty years…. It seems more burdensome … to stay in a bad relationship, or even one that has gone stale.” Silver splitters may have lost faith in their relationship, but they haven’t stopped hoping for love.
They’re done doing it for the kids. Many couples that might otherwise have sought divorce in their youth choose to wait until their kids are grown and self-sufficient. However, silver splitters may still encounter difficult family situations, such as deciding which grandparent should attend birthday parties or piano recitals.
They’ve been through it before. It stands to reason that older people are more likely to have had previous marriages than their younger counterparts. Unfortunately, those who have been divorced before are 2.5 times more likely to split again.
The girls are doing it for themselves. Baby boomers are the first generation to afford women the chance to be financially independent. As a result, older women thinking of divorce are less likely to stay due to financial concerns. However, dealing with divorce on a retiree’s fixed income can also pose challenges.
Grey divorce is far from an epidemic and hitting sixty does not cue the end to a happy marriage. The rise of silver splitters simply shows that we are no longer willing to settle for misery, no matter our age.